Facebook Brings the Community Together

With the popularity of social media networks such as Facebook (FB) and Twitter, Oundle now has many online pages advertising its events and businesses. What do these community pages offer Oundle?

These groups provide opportunities to comment on community events and promote Oundle. Some of the owners of the FB pages choose to remain anonymous, although they were willing to talk to the Chronicle about what motivates them to run these pages. These groups include Support Oundle’s High Street, Oundle Businesses and Events, Oundle, OTCWatch and Items for Sale in Oundle and Thrapston.

Support Oundle’s High Street aims to do exactly that, with ‘a viral reach of over 100,000 people’, their objectives are ‘to positively promote local businesses and ensure personalised, kindly support’. It is run by a small group of people who contribute to the page in their spare time and are ‘fiercely independent of any sponsor or organisation’.

They are not the only FB page that wants to see Oundle high street ‘survive in the face of tough pressures’. Oundle Business and Events provides ‘a forum for the many small and independent businesses, public events and charities’, and wants to promote Oundle as a place to visit. The owner spends about an hour a day maintaining the page, with nearly 800 likes and growing.

On Twitter @oundle was the first of its kind, and their Facebook page, Oundle is also one of the biggest, with 1900 followers. The owner said FB is ‘a modern way of sharing information. It certainly beats putting posters on trees!’ As an anonymous page, they said that there ‘nothing to gain by posting the owner’s [name]. We like to think it provides a valuable modern day service to locals without any favouritism displayed’.

Paul Kirkpatrick, the owner of OTCWatch, which covers the political end of town life, providing information about town council business. He said: ‘Facebook is an inexpensive and very effective way of communicating with people.’ This type of page can provide a platform for debate. Paul chooses not to delete posts, but if necessary, comments ‘of a particularly offensive nature’ would be removed.

Mandy Williamson runs a closed group called Items for sale in Oundle and Thrapston which is a platform for anyone living within a 15 mile radius of Oundle who wishes to buy or sell goods. Rather than promote Oundle businesses, Mandy has set up a network of trade that emerged out of necessity. Five years ago the only selling groups were in Peterborough and Corby. With buyers reluctant to travel to Oundle, she decided to set up a group that was ‘a service for local people’. To keep the platform fair, Mandy makes sure that no franchises or distributors use the page, and business can only have one advert on the page at any one time. She spends two hours a day managing the group, checking to see that members abide by the rules and do not start inappropriate discussions; and she does find it necessary to delete posts. The vetting process is thorough: ‘Today I had 29 requests which resulted in 16 scammers, 7 refused as out of our local area and 6 new members added.’

With growing pressure on small businesses, individuals in the community have taken it upon themselves to help promote the town, and and some pages such as Mandy’s even provide a new type of market economy that brings the community together.

By Thomas Dudley – 11 May 2016